Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Real Busy Week

Yesterday, I jumped through hoops getting this photo and 100 words, or so, submitted to the Hawaii Islands Contest at Trazzler. This morning I found out through email that it's moved into Round Two of the contest. Now, it's up to the public to do what's called "ADD TO WISHLIST", which is a fancy term for "VOTE".
Just like anywhere, you have to register to vote. It takes a few minutes, but, it's time well spent if you're interested in making some money doing travel writing. And it's easy, under 150 words will get you over. That's like a paragraph, for most people or a sentence from my wife!
This photo could win the grand prize and get me a trip for two to Hawaii. If I win I'll stay home and walk my dogs and see if they'll let the wife and her sister go to Hawaii. Ahh, peace and quiet on my island. But, I'm not really greedy, don't need the Grand Prize, just a small prize like $1,000 or even $250 for a writing contract'd make me happy.

So, if you have a few minutes, GO HERE and see my story. Then CLICK on ADD TO WISHLIST and you voted for me. It's that simple!

Sometimes millions of people are trying to Trazzle and read at the same time and it makes signing in tricky, so, I wrote some tips about how to get around that HERE
and, so far, it gets me signed in every time. So rock the vote and if you become a Trazzler HOLLER at me when you need a vote and you've got mine!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who is Rose Witmer ?

Well, I promised I'd introduce the new writer as soon as she got published. I also promised her I wouldn't post a photo of her until she got to see it and approve. Haven't been able to catch uo with her for her approval so, I did a little compromise, here. She's a busy gal, always on the go and I just can't keep up with her but, I can't keep letting my blog sit here with no photos on it, either. So, here's Rose Witmer, on the go.
She got published in the same magazine I did, my first time, Apogee Photo Magazine
Then, a few days later, hit Romar Traveler Magazineand she's chomping at the bit to hit every magazine she can. If I ever catch up with her and get a chance to have her select a photo she wants the world to see, I'll post it here. Until then, you'll just have to keep on guessing: Who is Rose Witmer ?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Experiment With Flickr

Here's a shot of Masateru Yamamoto (Center) surrounded by Tatsuya Taujino, Hideyuki Kurasawa, Norimasa Tanaka and Yoshimitsu Shinkawa a fine group of folks I met in the village of Ada Kunigami Okinawa, Japan when I was getting ready to climb the mountain just before the Shinugu Matsuri. They were visitors to Okinawa from somewhere up in the mainland and I got the big fellow to sign a release form in exchange for a promise to email him a copy of the photo.

My wife made me these neat Model Release Forms (In Japanese Kanji). They say something like "Put your name, address, email, phone number HERE and the guy with the camera will give you a FREE PHOTO. In exchange for that you give him permission to enter your photo in contests, have it published in magazines, sold in his gallery, or anything else that ain't against the law, like printed on Madonna's underwear she keeps forgettin' to wear.

Anyhow, after emailing the big guy the photo and finding out he wanted a larger size, I asked him if he'd like to have it published in a magazine. The only catch being, everybody in the photo would have to give me their names and consent to be published. Some magazines are picky about things like that, so, I have to make sure I do the stuff legal-like; magazines don't want to get sued and neither do I, over a picture I took.

Well, a few days later Masateru emailed me with everybody's names and not only permission to have the photo published, they asked to be published and wanted me to tell them where and when they'd be published. So, I stuck the photo on flickr and emailed them a LINK to show them their photo with names in the caption and everything. Then, I went about trying to REALLY GET THEM PUBLISHED. I could tell they had been looking and showing their girlfriends, or somebody, because as of yesterday the photo IMGP4586 had EIGHT VIEWS !!!

Last night the photo was REALLY PUBLISHED and I StumbledUpon, Tweeted, Delicious Bookmarked and FaceBooked it. Then, went back and added
my magic to the photo on Flickr.


That's the magic of using Model Releases, your social networks and Flickr, properly and legally. They get their names and faces in print and all kinda folks hittin' on them and I can't get sued.

Gotta run now, though. I think Madonna's lookin' for me!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween !

By the time I get this typed it should be close enough, anyway. It's been a pretty hectic week around this corner of the world and looks like business will be picking up, even more, next week. This photo was taken the last night of the Obon holiday and really has little to do with Halloween, except maybe the colors, spooky face and the fact that all the racket the Eisa Dancers in the streets are making is to send their ancestoral spirits off for another year.

The photo did get published and that's a major accomplishment for a poor old country boy like me. To me, The Brave New Traveler Magazine is the National Geographic of the Matador Network, where, I've been lucky enough to get published a couple of times. Between articles pending print, articles I'm working on and blogs I do regularly, on other people's sites, my poor cameras are collecting alot of dust. So, this weekend, providing Mother Nature cooperates, I'll be out doing a couple of Gigabytes of shooting. Might even catch some spooky ones for ya.

Happy Halloween !

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Weak-End

I know how to spell "Weekend", don't panic smarty pants Spell Checker; I'm talking about MY WEAK-END. Call it my weak-point, if you'd like; indoor photography and I just don't get along.

Wedding photorgaphers and the folks who do studio shots of babies and families have my utmost respect. I admire them, but, don't exactly envy them. Maybe they feel the same way about us outdoors-wildlife types.

Anyway, if you're one of them, STAY OUTA MY JUNGLE and I'll gladly stay outa your studio and weddings!

This was one of my favorite shots captured at my Nephew's wedding Sunday. About as close to the outdoors as I got all weekend. And the photo is probably not exactly what the bride wants to save in her wedding album, but it's perfect for me to use in my Camera Talk Blogs or anywhere else I might like to use it.

It demonstrates what a chore the real photographer has trying to capture a great shot when there's around 300 other people trying to take crappy little pictures with their cell phones. They pop-up everywhere, everytime you're making that last manual adjustment, holding your breath, ready to smoothly trigger the shutter for a jump-off-the-page photo.

The gal on the left was the wedding photographer. And she was good. Swapping out lenses faster than you could look at your watch, without taking her eyes off the subject. Taking 2 or 3 horiontal shots then, 2 or 3 verticals, twisting her on-camera strobe, bouncing flash off the ceiling, climbing a ladder, kneeling; whatever it took to get some awesome shots.

Wedding photographers in this part of the world charge somewhere between $1000-$3000 per event. Pretty decent buisness if you don't mind working weekends.

Me, I'd rather be in the woods or on the beach looking for my million dollar shot. For more on my WEAK-END click on the TITLE ABOVE and go to GALLERY for the Okinawa Wedding Slideshow where you can even hear the mushy music I hooked-up for the family and friends.

Back to the jungle.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back to Ada

A quick post before I forget. Last Saturday I got to go back to Ada Kunigami Okinawa; the place where I shot the Shinugu Matsuri Photos and damn-near lost over a hundred photos by deleting in-camera.

Anyway, this trip paid off big time. Got a picture of a live wild boar and all kinds of good stuff.

Made some great contacts, got model releases signed, so I can't be sued for using peoples photos and maybe, even have aplace to sleep the next time I go on a 2 day shoot up in the mountains and beaches of northern Okinawa.

Sign by Danasoft - Get Your Free Sign

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not Exactly NYC

This year I swore I'd get some wide-angle shots of the Guiness World Record Tug-O-War in Naha. Magazine editors are always asking for shots that show the whole scene. They weren't too wild about my photos last year where I got in the middle of the crowd and attempted close-up shots.

What you see here is a shot I made from a pedestrian overpass a few hundred yards up the highway. It was kinda cool being able to set up a tripod, tweak exposure settings, adjust focus and zoom without being bumped around in the crowd below.

PLUS, you can get ARRESTED for smoking DOWN THERE. Whatever happened to SMOKER'S RIGHTS ANYWAY! Presidents, kings and even some queens and dictators smoke. So why'n hell can't I ?

This scene doesn't capture the whole 15,000 people pulling on the 40 something ton rope, in fact, I doubt you can see a thousand folks down there. The idea here was to capture some sight of the rope, crowd at the start of the event and the golden ball opening, showering balloons , confetti and streamers on them as the signal to PULL.

Maybe you can enlarge this shot on your screen and see more details. The reason I'm late updating here and on my website this week: I had a few hundred more shots to develop and still have to sort them out for publication. Not here, of course; this blog doesn't pay me!

If you absolutely want to see more now, visit my shootin' pardner, Doc, over at:

http://goyarepublic.blogspot.com/2009/10/great-tsunahiki.html he's got the whole story and probably doesn't say anything about SMOKER's RIGHTS, either !

To be continued...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zakimi Castle with Doc

Zakimi Castle with Doc
Sunday was our normal Sunday routine; grab our camera bags, tripods and get as far away from home as we could before the wives wake up and think of stuff for us to do.
When Doc sent me a text message the night before asking where I wanted to go shoot, my reply consisted of one word, “far”.
The best plan for a day of shooting in Okinawa is to not have any plan at all; just follow the sun and watch the shadows; that always leads to some fun shootin’. I always say “Perfect lighting for a picture takes place for only about 30 seconds at any point on this island". You just have to be there to catch it at the right time.
If you make plans, I guarantee, they’ll fail. So, we learned, a long time ago, just get out and go; let the weather be your guide.
We have a grand old time, shoot until it gets too hot or bright in the afternoon sun, then go inside museums, into the shade of the woods, or just stop in some air-conditioned restaurant and eat until the weather starts cooperating outside, again.
My plan is to catch all 5 of the UNESCO World Heritage Castles on Okinawa, in the best light and from every possible angle and put together an article that’ll knock your flip flops off!
Stand by for more…..


Monday, September 28, 2009

Yesterday's Shoot

This was just one of the 111 shots I came home with yesterday. Still have 200 or so to develop from last Sunday's excursion and 200 from Saturday's shoot of the youngest Granddaughters' Sports Day event. To be continued.....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making a Pig of Yourself at the YuiYui Rest Stop

Drive north on HWY58 from anywhere in central Okinawa heading to the un-congested beaches and mountain scenery and coming or going you’ll want to get out of your car and take a stretch. The YuiYui reststop with cartoon-like symbols of birds and a statue of a brightly colored bird lifting weights on the ocean side of the road will lure you in. Not your typical tourist trap, with souvenirs, toilets, over-priced maps and dining, this roadside stop has as museum, and best of all, it’s free! There are displays of the wildlife native to the yanbaru (north country) wilderness, ancient farm implements, pottery, baskets and various items considered antique in Japan that still play a role in the cultures of Okinawa, today. Expecting to find the food on the expensive side, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can stuff yourself with a lunch for less than 2,000 yen.

Ran outa time to hunt Wild Boar, rainy season, then Summer heat, grandkids on vacation, 3 trips up North to investigate a Shinugu Matsuri (Festival) story, sorry; I let my Blog followers, Website viewers, friends, family and dogs DOWN, but that’s the way it is when you wait ‘til you’re over 60 and decide you have to pick up a camera and try to get published in National Geographic before you croak!

The good news is: On the way back from a drive to the northern territory with (soon to be world-famous writer) Rachel Sensei and a back seat full of (2) rambunctious boys, we made a pit stop at the YuiYui Rest Area. Being Rachel was nice enough to drive, translate and keep the kids at bay whenever I was using my camera, I figured the least I could do was spring for lunch.
It was already past 1:30PM and everyone was starving. I imagined it’d cost around $40 to feed the 4 of us at a tourist trap, but what the hell; I hadn’t offered to put gas in the car, yet and thought, “Maybe if we stuff ourselves everybody but the driver would sleep and be quiet the rest of the way home”.
Taking a few shots of the scenery outside for some future travel guides was a good idea, too. So, I snapped a few to maybe help people recognize the place in case they can’t read the Japanese for YuiYui. It really is a convenient stop for anyone heading to or from Okuma Beach or Hiji Falls and places north, like Hedo Point. Just look for the giant Kuina Bird or the other character pictured here, lifting weights.
We all had different meals, Goya Champuru, Soba, Pork Tonkatsu and, I forget what else. The waitress even asked if we spoke Japanese, so, I think she would’ve helped us in English, if need be.
Anyway, I expected the tab to be up in the 5,000 yen range, but it turned-out to be 2000 and some change. I know the meal I had would’ve run 1400 yen in any restaurant down south, but it was only 800 yen, there!
And, GET THIS!...I found some wild boar hanging out in the museum and shot them, too!
One of these days, I’ll get the real deal for you, but I’m starting to think it’s going to take some external lighting hooked to a motion detector, or one heck of a good external flash because the darn pigs have only been active in the pineapple fields at night. The pineapples are almost all harvested, but sweet potatoes are on their menu, too. One of these days, I’ll get one for you.
The latest news is, I decided Mondays will be my webpage day. Look for something new every week. I’ll Blog, change the music and maybe even post my favorite shot of the week, just to keep you coming back. Tell all your friends and relatives to have a look, too: Ryukyu Life and let me know what you think of it.
To be continued…..

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Never Delete In-Camera. NEVER EVER !

This post is a reminder for me and, I hope, a lesson for everyone who shoots with a digital camera. I've read it a thousand times and probably told friends hundreds of times "Never delete photos you've taken in your camera. Always wait until you download, then delete after viewing the shots on your computer monitor".
This past weekend, I attended an exotic Festival that takes place in the northern area of Okinawa. I had been planning the shoot for months in advance, got a magazine interested in the story, made 3 liaison visits to the remote location and even arranged to have a translator accompany me. The Festival and exotic rituals take place only once every two years
Loaded-up with 2 cameras, 5 sets of fully-charged batteries and 5 SD cards, tripod, cable release, toothbrush and paste, moist towels, camera cleaning gear, a back pack and hiking boots; what could possibly go wrong?
Let me tell you what went wrong. I decided to DELETE ONE BLURRED SHOT IN-CAMERA.
A couple of enthusiastic party-goers came stumbling towards my tripod in the dark and I moved twice to prevent them stumbling over it. This took place as I was hitting DELETE and paying more attention to them, than I was to what I was doing. Over 100 shots of an important event for my assignment are gone forever!
What's the photo here got to do with all this? That's my Grandkids sketching the events I lost. They're making the sketches from shots I took of someone else's photos while I'm looking for a magazine that likes sketches, as well as, photos in their articles.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Twice Within a Week

It's been awhile since I've updated here. I've been too busy researching and typing on other people's blogs and neglecting my own.

It started paying-off, though. Twice in the past week my photos and attempts at writing have hit online travel magazines. This photo of a Mud Festival, along with another of dragonboat races got published at http://www.apogeephoto.com/

Another version of my Bullfighting in Okinawa was published 3 days earlier in a travel and culture online magazine http://www.nihonsun.com/2009/07/03/bullfighting-in-okinawa/

One thing I've learned, recently is that this internet thing, I'm always complaining about is a pretty handy tool when it comes to making contacts. You can meet all kinds of professional writers and photographers, help each other out, get published and avoid getting caught in scams (Which there are plenty of, out there).

To all my friends, photographers and writers: Thank You and have a good week !

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Will Teach You To Be Rich

It's rainy season here. Not much Wildlife shooting goin on, but I haven't given-up on the Wild Boar quest, yet, just slowed down a little bit.

Anyway, while I'm waiting for sunshine to break out all over, I got into some Travel Writing and will post a few Links here as my stories hit the magazines.

Getting on the WWW and trying to learn how people become Travel Writers has been a blast and I've met some amazing folks along the way.

You've got to check this Nora Dunn out. She'll teach you how to travel around the world for FREE ! So, whether you're a photographer, just trying to scrimp enough money together for your next lens, or someone who just wants to walk out the door, never look back and go out and see the world, you should look and see what she has to say at: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/cheap-travel/

What's all this got to do with the picture I posted? That's a $40.00 slab of Australian Steak being cooked, right in front of me at one of the most expensive Tourist Trap Restuarants in Naha Okinawa, Japan and it didn't cost me a Dime !

Tell me what you think of Nora's Article and I'll teach you how I did it !

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Keep Everything

Today I couldn't have been happier than I was when I found this NOT WORTH KEEPING SHOT that I took a few years ago. I went looking through 3 PC's, CD's and DVD's and was ready to dig out my external hard drive trying to find this series of shots from MAY 2007 and was about to give-up and move on with my life when, BINGO, it appeared !

It was with about 50 other pictures worth keeping, burned to a DVD and sitting on top of a fridge in my favorite bar. So, much for my secret filing system. Anyway, why I was looking for the files has something to do with a magazine that was going to publish the shots, but, went out of business, instead. So, if I could find the pictures and story, maybe, just maybe, I could stay in business awhile longer!

Once, a long time ago I read another wildlife photographer's comments about keeping everything. I even tried it for awhile (just deleting really horrible shots), but soon the GigaBytes start piling-up and eating up space, even when you're burning DVD's and using an external hard drive. So, once a month, or so, I go back through and delete like a mad man.

But, twice in the past few months, I've found out exactly what the old wildlife Dude was talking about. Just a few weeks ago I was telling a friend of mine about some extinct pigeon the bird folks need a picture of. I had the damn thing, a good shot of one, but threw it away because it was sitting on a telephone wire and I like my wildlife shots to be in the wild !

From now on I'm keeping everything !

Monday, May 18, 2009

Where I've Been

This past week, or so, I've been visiting the field in this photo and I'll probably spend the rest of the month staking-out this site. Maybe next month, too.
What you see is pretty much the view I'll have while waiting for a wild boar to roam into my viewfinder. I'd like to get on a lower level; like eyeball-level with the pig, but, I'm not sure how friendly they are !
The field is actually a pineapple field and these are some very expensive pineapples, supposedly very sweet ( Peach-flavored, some of the locals claim). They're covered with black netting and the base of the plants has rows of black plastic covering the ground, so you can't see the pineapples, but they're there and ripening. And wild boars love them !
The farmer has a shotgun and will use it when the time is right. I don't really want to take a picture of a pig getting shot, so, I convinced him to let me have a crack at shooting with a camera first and promised him an award-winning photo before he goes blasting-away like Elmer Fudd after Bugs Bunny.
So, besides getting up at 4:30 every morning, going to the field, swatting mosquitoes, watching sunrise and going hours without coffee and cigarettes, I stake-out this spot and wander around
taking test shots from different directions and look for signs of the pigs being in the neighborhood.
Rainy season started today and it'll probably be wet out there for the next few weeks, but I have to get this shoot done when I can. When the pineapples are ready for the pigs to eat, I'll be there waiting for them. And the farmer will be next, unless somebody throws rocks at them and scares them away after I'm done shooting !

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Know Better

Sometimes a wildlife photographer shouldn't be allowed to go to the big city. This past weekend I shot everything but wlidlife, but sometimes other missions take priority; like trying to earn a living.
Saturday was a Mud Festival shoot and Sunday was Dragonboat Races, all part of the weeklong holiday called Dragon Week in Japan.
For the past week, I've been trying to figure out some Word 2007 program to make my life easier and Billybob Gates and the Microsoft heathens have been installing all kinds of Explorer stuff to make my PC run faster and the print on the screen smaller to make me stay up later at night squinting at the screen.
So, staying up late and waking up early to go shoot festivals got the better of me and my cameras. I should have known better, no, I DO KNOW BETTER; I just got stupid.
Wildlife photographers always keep their lenses clean and make sure there's no dust on their sensor. As a force of habit, I always clean my sensor ecerytime I change lenses-ALWAYS!!!
Well, I went to switch lenses the day of the mud fest and it was around 4AM. I took out my cleaning kit and removed my big zoom to replace it with a smaller zoom. Covered the lens I removed and grabbed my mini-turkey baster to blast air on my sensor. Turned the power switch on my camera to raise the mirror and the dang thing tells me there's no battery in it !
My batteries were charging for the busy weekend. So, I figure it won't hurt to skip cleaning the sensor (just this one time) and slapped the lens in.
Two great days of bright, sunny weather. I had plenty of spare batteries and Gigabytes of extra SD cards. Lots of action and hundreds of great shots. I kept the same lens in the camera all weekend and just made sure the outside of the lens stayed clean. Still have lots of photos to process on a rainy day, but, it didn't take long to discover: I HAD DUST ON MY SENSOR ALL WEEKEND !
The photo above was easy to fix. I cropped it so the dust didn't show. Some of the other photos won't be so easy to fix. Dust can be removed by cloning it out. That means buying another progam and spending more time squinting at a computer monitor !

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Rockthrust at Home

Today will be a short post; I have some quick IRS stuff to do. Waiting untill the last minute isn't such a good idea, so I make the deadline the 14th of April for my taxes !

This Blue Rockthrust is the closest thing we have to a Robin in Okinawa, only we see them year-round. This character put on a great show for me and I wished I'd have brought my 500mm lens instead of just a 250 that day. What I did have though, got the job done; it was windy and I was on the wrong side of a safety fence designed to keep tourists from falling off the cliff. I live here, so I figure the fence wasn't for me; I wanted to get closer to the bird !

Setting up a tripod helped steady the camera. He wasn't moving when I made this shot and that gave me time to move the focus point to get a good bead on his eye. Selective focus and spot metering will give you a much sharper photo, as long as your camera is steady. On a windy day even a tripod can be shaky, so two things I do to get my best shot are wrap the camera strap around something and hold the end of my telescoping lens. Then, just hope for the best! TAX TIME ! More later...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Talk While You Shoot. At the Sakura (桜) Festival

Not a big fan of people photography, I just couldn't resist taking this shot. I was in the mountains of northern Okinawa shooting Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) for a local magazine.

Along came a bus with huge handicapped symbols painted on the sides and several attendants helped the group assemble for a photo under the trees.

When I noticed the little cameras and cellphones they were using, I asked if I could shoot some photos and the attendants agreed. My next question was " Is there an email address I can send the photos to"? No one had an email address or, at least weren't going to give it out to some foreign stranger. Some of the folks in the crowd had already started smiling when they saw that the old man with the big camera, speaking Japanese was going to take their picture, so, I figured I'd better get shooting and forget about the paperwork.

The few times I do shoot photos of people, I always ask permission first and try to get a model release signed after showing the subject a preview on my LCD screen. My forms are in Japanese as well as, English and basically give me the right to have the photo published, entered in contests or anything else I want to do, within the law. In return for their signature, I promise the subject a copy of their photo.

These folks were bussed away when I got distracted and started shooting some birds in the Cherry Blossoms (桜). If only I had gotten a picture of the bus so my wife could track-down the name of the rehabilitation center they had come from !

There was a series of about a dozen shots I had taken, moving from right to left and talking as I fired away. At first, not everyone was smiling. The tall gentleman standing in the left side of the first picture actually was wearing a frown as if, maybe he didn't want some foreigner snapping his picture.

By the time I shot this last picture he was having a hard time holding his smile back! How'd I do it?

There's an ancient language in Okinawa that's not Japanese: Uchinaguchi, or Okinawa Hogan that only older folks speak. For many years it was banned by the government of Japan and could not be taught in the schools. When I used the old Okinawan dialect and told everyone how young they looked and how pretty the women were, they LOVED IT !

Depending how you intend to use a photo and the laws of the land you want to use it in you may or may not need a signed release. Newspapers, being editorial in nature, may not require a release. Some places regard a crowd of 16 people or more as being a public event, and no release is required. Other places require a release form signed for every recognizable person in the photo. General rule of thumb: ALWAYS GET SIGNED RELEASES, even if you're taking a picture of someone's dog, and especially, if you're taking a picture of someone's minor child !

Okinawa is a small island, so. I will eventually track this group down, not to get a release form signed; just to present them a framed copy of their favorite photo, because, that's the way I am !

Monday, April 6, 2009

Get Online

Even though I complain about the hours a day I spend getting my face blasted by whatever a computer monitor emits that makes me an old grouch, you just can't beat some of the great contacts you can meet online.
This butterfly photo was taken just this past Friday and I uploaded it to a website without having a clue as to what the common name of the critter might be, so I titled it "Who Knows?" and explained my predicament; Grandkids still on Spring Break and no time for research !
Wildlife Photographers are supposed to give you the names of what they shoot. common as well as the scientific name. This butterfly lives in Southeast Asia, India and maybe even in Australia. It likes pine trees and places where there's alot of rainfall. It flies fast and in a zig-zag pattern, so to get a good shot at it, you're going to have to wait until it lands. They even fly 5000-7000 feet above sea level.
There's a great website I use for identifying butterflies in Japan and I got it from a contact I met at JPG Magazine. The only problem is I'd have to squint through about 3000 postage stamp-sized images to try and find it. If you guess at a name and you're wrong when you post it, the whole world will let you know about it ! So, my plan was to wait until next week sometime and do the research when all the house guests I have are back in school.
To my surprise, this morning when I fired-up my laptops and visited the dozen or so contacts I have, "BINGO" my butterfly was named ! And this time it was another contact at JPG Magazine, living in the good ol' USA.
When you learn how to keep the amount of contacts you have on different websites down to a number you can handle, they become invaluable. You admire and comment on each other's photos and share ideas, and actually learn from each other.....

I smell popcorn burning/ gotta run... more later

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not so Wildlife

Lately, I've been thinking of changing the name of this Blog to something like: Misadventures in Modern Photography !

Wildlife Photography ? The only wildlife I'll probably shoot for the next few weeks will probably be Grandkids !

At any rate, this vertical shot was pre-planned for a Magazine. I'm practicing; this shot won't be submitted. The actual shot I'll submit will be on the left side of the page with the text on the right. I know, because the writer emailed me a copy and it had a sketch in the original version and I promised to try and duplicate it as best I could with a photo. So, why practice? Because that's the way I like to do stuff, ever since reading that a National Geographic Photographer on assignment may shoot 20,000 pictures, just to get 10 or 12 of them published in an article. Hell, I bet I get my picture published in under 100 shots ! Then, maybe National Geographic might hire me if the cost of Gigabytes keeps going up !

The second photo I shot horizontal, at a different location and using another model. These are my Grandkids and when I take them along with 3 dogs, there's no point in bringing a tripod, extra camera or lenses. The grand plan is to wear them and the dogs out while checking the lighting and shadows at different locations along the beach. Hopefully, the 5 mile round-trip walk will get me a few hours of quiet in the afternoon, while they all nap ! But, as it turns out, I'm usually the one who winds up napping, right after lunch and the kids are bouncing off the walls with a sugar-high from the ice cream I cooked them for breakfast !
The last shot I took just to show the writer what kind of scenery is available and if it'll work, when the lighting is just the way I like it, a model will appear in the picture. Only it won't be done without my tripod. No dogs, no Grandkids, no hurry; the only one on a sugar-high will be me ! More later

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Some Pictures Have to be Vertical

Even though myself and my cameras hate to shoot vertical shots, sometimes it's the only way to go. Unless you feel like shooting horizontal with a wide angle and 20 something MegaPixel camera, then cropping it vertical after the fact. That's what I ought to do; buy a bigger camera !

This shot isn't something a glossy magazine would want to print, but it'd be great for a newspaper. When I shot it the sun was going down. I saw the plane coming and knew I had to get my camera off the tripod, if I wanted to get low enough to the ground to compose the shot the way I did; airplane, people and flagpole all in the frame.

A newspaper isn't as concerned about a picture being noisy, as long as it's newsworthy. Magazines want sharp, clear and detailed images for their glossy pages. In newsprint even a sharp picture looks noisy because of the quality of paper it's printed on. The way to get a picture like this sharp, clear and noiseless would be to have your camera mounted on a tripod, ISO set at the lowest tolerable setting for the shutter speed you desire, and have a cable release attached to the camera to eliminate shake when you snap the picture.

I'm always yelling at my shooting buddy when we go on our weekly shooting excursions about using the tripod. You just can't beat it for getting great shots. Even if you don't have a cable release, you can use the timer on your camera to eliminate the shake you get from pressing the shutter button. Just don't try a timer when the subject is moving !

Now, when I'm out in the woods or on the beach trying to catch critters on the move I rarely carry a tripod. If it's light enough to get a 1/1000 second shutter speed, I can probably hold steady enough for a good clear shot while panning the camera. If the subject isn't moving and the light isn't that great, I try to find something to steady the camera on ( a rock, limb of a tree, anything sturdy ); even sit down and use my knees and elbows to form a human tripod ! You're just not going to get the greatest photos in the world without a tripod, so always use one unless there's absolutely no other way to take the picture.

This morning I went without a tripod. Why ? Three dogs and three Grandsons went on a three mile hike with me. I had to travel light and be able to move quickly. Didn't take any wildlife shots, but got some great shots using expedient methods. Where are they ? Going to a Glossy Magazine ! More later

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flowers n' Ferns

Luckily I packed almost all my camera gear in a bag for this trip. Thinking I'd get some nice close-ups of the Azaleas it was kind of disappointing the way the weather turned out. The wind in the mountains and harsh sunlight kind of wilted all the flowers.

When you go out on a shoot like this, you better be flexible. Mother Nature takes a turn for the worst, you just have to outsmart her. For this shot I got up high in a tower and looked down into a valley where the wind wouldn't have much effect on me or the scene. I set my tripod in a position where a concrete barrier protected it from the breeze. The Giant Ferns in the upper-center of the frame weren't moving, so I knew the valley was also, sheltered from the wind. I stopped-down a few clicks on aperature and used the camera's 2 second timer, held my breath and fired-away.

To this day, I couldn't tell you what an Azalea looks like; even if I tripped-over a flock of them ! What I really wanted was the picture of the Giant Ferns ! About a month ago, I shot this curly wachamakallit, golden plant sprouting at the base of another mountain. I was on a Cherry Blossom assignment that day and it was another windy day on the top of a mountain with me trying to get nice, slow shutter speed shots of (ugh) flowers moving in the wind ! The gal writing the story I was shooting for spotted the plant on our way down the hill and started shooting it with her point and shoot (toy) camera. I noticed the way the sun was hitting it, just right and knew if I took the time to set-up my tripod, it'd be too late; the sun would move. So, I just laid down behind a log and rested my lens on a log and captured it !

One of the things I really like about the web; if you post something (you have no clue as to what it is) on a website and be honest about it, somebody out there will tell you. A few days after I posted it, it was identified ! It's a baby Giant Fern and IT's EDIBLE ! To me, that's what Flower Photography should be all about !

Now, all I have to do is find out the scientific name of these Giant Ferns and I might get a Nature Magazine to buy them. I can Google that easy. Meanwhile, anybody out there who can tell me how you cook them ?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Has Sprung: An Azalea Festival (Photo)

Been over a week since I Blogged. It's Spring, already? Well, I'd better get busy. Next thing you know my taxes will be overdue and the IRS will be hunting for me.

This photo was taken in the northern mountains of Okinawa during the last week of the Azalea Festival. I'm not real crazy about shooting flowers, or buying them, or even smelling them; must be a GUY thing.

What makes girls so crazy over flowers, anyway? If you can't eat them, I have no use for them. But, WAIT; maybe if you shoot a great picture of them, you can make a MILLION DOLLARS selling it!

Luckily I brought all my cameras and lenses on this trip. By the time a friend and I got into the hills and walked halfway up the mountain the sun was glaring down on us and would've made the lighting too harsh for shooting flowers. So, my million dollar was taken with the help of some cloud cover. Look for it soon in some Woman's Magazine.

When I saw this group of tourists and flower fanatics with their cameras crossing the bridge, I just had to get a shot of it. I just waited for a cloud to pass by and block-out the sun and fired away.

Gotta run; 7 Grandkids are going on Spring Break and will probably spend the next 3 weeks at my house eating ice cream for breakfast (that's about all the breakfast I know how to cook). Then there's that IRS thing and, oh yeah, Wildlife Photography and Blogs to do. More later...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

It's been awhile, so I figured I'd better post something. So, I dug-up this shot from the 1st of August, last Summer. This is Cheese, my wife's dog. He's got to be close to a year old by now. Still chews my flipflops when I forget to sprinkle them with Red Pepper, though, the son of a bitch !

It's a new week, already and I still haven't fired either of my cameras since, I don't remember when. The never-ending rain just keeps never-ending and, so far, I haven't gotten bored enough to try any indoor photos. I've pretty much kept busy with these freakin' computers; getting even more tangled-up in the web. So, I cant complain, even though I yell at websites and my laptops " IT IS ME STOOPIT", when they deny me access because Windows or Google or somebody forgot my password !

Anyway, all the administrative crap I'm always complaining about paid-off last week when my Okinawan Bullfight Story hit the web and now the whole world can see it: http://www.apogeephoto.com/ It doesn't pay anything, but it's an honor for a cameraman to get there. Stay tuned for a WILD BOAR HUNT ! COMING SOON; if I survive !

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hello Kitty

When you don't take your camera out for 3 continuous days because it won't stop raining, cabin fever sets in pretty fast. Now my new camera can go out in the rain and won't be harmed by it; I'm the one who doesn't like getting wet !

Actually, I'm like a caged animal when it rains all day long. And I hate taking pictures indoors; that's for those studio photographers, not me. This photo was shot back in August of last year when I was really, really bored, I guess. I'm going through my old folders and throwing everything away to make more room for important stuff and I figured why not post one; might give some aspiring studio photographer some ideas. Then I'll throw the other 99 shots I took of Hello Kitty that day away.

There were two real important things I learned from this shoot, though. One was that I'll never become a Still Life Photographer and the other was I never realized how filthy my poor cameras got from me crawling around on the beach and in the woods until I shot a 10MegaPixel picture of one an blew it up full size on a PC. There was rocks and boulders, maybe even asteroids all over the outside of the camera except for on the lens. Everybody knows about keeping lenses clean, I think ?

So, it's important to clean the outside of your camera, too. Unless you do what I plan on doing tomorrow; take the camera out for a walk in the rain !

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aquarium Shot

Dug this shot out of my files because it's just another rainy day and I'm in a hurry to get out, go home and walk the dogs and probably get as wet as this fish in an aquarium.
The day I shot this I was in a hurry, too. That's why it's probably not the sharpest aquarium shot you've ever seen. To get a great shot of a fish in a tank you have to be patient, get the right lighting and exposure and watch out for glare off the tank's glass. A great way to avoid glare is to position yourself where you can press your camera lens flat against the glass. I've taken some award-winning photos that way and I keep them in my Nobody GETS TO SEE FOLDER.
Why didn't I take my time on this shot ? Well, I promised this girl, if she modeled for me, I'd give her a free portrait. She's pretty and works in the office at a club I go to for lunch about once a month. She asked if I could make her look slimmer when I shoot her portrait and I said, "Sure, my computer has a program that can stretch you out, make you taller, slimmer, whatever you want". One of my cameras even has that feature built right into it. So, now every time I go to grab a quick hamburger for lunch, she wants to know when I'm going to take her picture. Usually, the place is busy at lunch time and that's my excuse to not take her portrait; this time it wasn't. I passed by the office and saw her, but she didn't see me. I shot the fish on the way out and made a quick exit; that's why I was lucky to get a shot of the fish at all, let alone a decent one.
So, what's the big deal; shy or afraid to shoot a pretty girl ? Not at all ! What kind of an animal do you think I am ? I just spent half the morning with my camera in the jungle and the other half laying in bird crap on a rock overlooking the ocean trying to get some good wildlife shots. So, why would I want to get in some pretty girl's face lookin' like Grizzly Adams and smelling like an uncleaned bird cage to shoot her portrait ?
Besides, with all these Blogs and Meta tags, URLs, Links and other foreign languages I'm looking at every night; who wants to take the time to learn how to make pretty girls skinnier after you shoot them ? Somebody showed me how to put a link to my website from this Blog today. Let me know if it works. Then when I get around to it I'll post a picture of a pretty, skinny girl for you. OK ?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Okinawan Bullfight: An Insider's Tip

Going back through my past blogs looking for some unique aspect of culture in this part of the world to publish on my newly created Insider's Tips Page, I found this gem. Well, it deserves an update so, here I am almost two years later dusting it off and doing some editing.

A Bullfight in Okinawa is not the bloody sport most people would imagine when they hear the word "Bullfight". Bull Wrestling would be a better description and it is similar, in many ways, to Japanese Sumo Wrestling.

There are no Matadors or swords and knives used in this sport. Some handlers are present in the ring to cheer their side of beef on and lead them in the right direction.

The bulls lock horns and have a shoving match which may last from two to twenty minutes. When one of them gets tired and runs off, the other one is declared the winner.

Every once in awhile, one of the bulls will look at the size of his opponent and decide to turn into a chicken and just run away without ever bumping heads. Then he'll run around the ring trying to find the exit. And the crowd goes wild.

So, after a few thousand clicks of the shutter on my camera, I've decided it's more fun watching the people at the Bullfights than it is watching the bulls. And the best part of the whole sport is waiting for a bull to come into the ring and run around acting like a chicken. The rest of this post in Quotation Marks is my original from March 4, 2009 back when I was too busy to form an opinion about Okinawa Bullfighting:

"Its been a pretty hectic month of shooting the bull and I thought it was all over in Febraury. Well, the bullshooting is really done, now it's a matter of getting all the, what's called post-processing done. So, it looks like these big fellas are going to be haunting me through the month of March, too.
Too tired tonight to post much of a Blog, but, if you want more of the Bull Story go to my website and click-on articles at the top of the page. Then click Okinawan Bullfight and you'll see my first attempt at putting an article on a webpage. THAT'S ALL FOLKS."

If you ever get the opportunity to see an Okinawan Bullfight, don't pass it up !


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wildlife Isn't Just Birds

Sometimes wildlife just happens right in your own home and you don't need to be lugging backpacks full of cameras and lenses up and down the hills and along the beaches.

This Okinawan Gecko was hanging from the ceiling of my utility room just wailing the moth he caught and smiling while he was at it ! He kept it up long enough for me to go grab my camera and pop the flash up.

Then, there was the day I walked all the way to the beach and the tide wasn't right, so no birds showed-up. After I drank all my coffee and ran out of smokes, there wasn't anything to do but head back home. That's when I spotted this humongous Banana Spider whose web would've gotten all over me if I didn't duck. Always looking for the right angle to get the sun where it lights up the subject the way I want it, I noticed if I positioned myself and camera just so, I could line the spider up with the cloud. You can't see the web, but who cares? In Japanese the word for Spider is "Kumo" and so is the word for Cloud ( Kumo).

Snails are wildlife, too and what's neat about them is you probably don't need to worry about them causing alot of blur in your photo if you want to use a slower shutter speed and you get plenty of time to move around them to get the best lighting. No need for a tripod, just set your camera on the ground.
Stay tuned, soon when the weather gets a bit warmer, I'll be taking the camera on a Wild Boar hunt ! That's all for today.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Katsuren Castle

The weekend went by fast ! Cloudy and cold, but not too much rain. So, I got out and did some Castle shooting. The idea is to try and catch each major Castle in the right light and at the right time of day so I have Postcard perfect pictures of every one of them. It didn't turn out that way, but I got alot of practice in and even managed to catch a few wildlife shots while I was at it.

Tourists sometimes get in the way when you're trying to get the perfect shot and it used to drive me insane. Now, sometimes I let them in the picture, but I wouldn't want it hanging on my wall and nobody would probably want to buy it except maybe the tourists in the picture. Hey, that might work if I could squeeze a small printer in my camera bag !

The lenses I usually use aren't really the best for trying to shoot a humongus Castle and the grounds around it. One of these days I'll have to break down and invest in a really expensive wide-angle lens and leave the bazookas I usually lug around for shooting wildlife at home.
But, then what happens when you're out somewhere on a nice sunny day shooting Castles and along comes a bunch of wildlife ? Just hafta get a bigger camera bag, more cameras and lots of lenses. Or quit trying to shoot the dumb Castles. Just buy Postcards and Calendars like everybody else does ! And shoot the WILDLIFE !!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Blue Skies Aint Everything

The last Post I made, the photo of the Osprey was taken just a few minutes and a few yards away from this shot of an Egret in the pines.
The weather today looked more like the last photo I posted; grey skies all afternoon and it looks like it'll be that way the rest of the weekend. So, I decided to post this Sunny Day photo to cheer myself-up. Another reason for posting this shot is just to see how it looks on the right side of the page.
Vertically composed photos always drive me nuts, but Magazine Editors love them, for some reason. I think it gives them more room for text and advertising. If I had my way, I'd make all my shots horizontally and pass a law that says any Magazine that wants their photos horizontal has to buy vertical shots and print them real big then cut the sides off to fit their pages ! Or, better yet, put their advertising on another page where it doesn't be distracting the reader from enjoying a good look at a Nature shot.

Glad I got that off my mind. I hope everybody has a Sunny Day tomorrow !

Friday, February 27, 2009

On Being Artistic

For you folks that have those old Black and White monitors on your computer, I figured I'd give you a treat; a B&W photo ! Why would a nature photographer take a beautiful picture of an Osprey with all those neat colored feathers lit-up by the early morning sun and ruin it by presenting it in Black and White ?
Because it's my picture and I can do any damn thing I want to with it ! No, really I was trying to be artistic. Yesterday was the first time in about a month I had a blast doing what I like most in life; hunting for wildlife with my camera. I was awake before 4AM, coffeed my body-up, walked my dogs, loaded-up my cameras and was out waiting for the birds to wake up before 6AM. Froze my butt off wearing my Grandpa T-shirt, shorts and flipflops but I was happy; no dogs, I snuck-outa the house before the wife woke-up, not a care in the world. Just me and my cameras; Man against the Elements !
Got 179 great photos of all kinds of birds in the wild and even shot some fish in a riverbed. All in about 4 hours. I was actually on my way home when I spotted the Osprey and then, another Osprey. I know their habits pretty well, so I had plenty of time to do manual settings on my camera. Tripod: forget it, it's a waste of time when you have to move as quick as they fly (unless you maybe have a 800mm lens and you're in a tower somewhere). Just act like you're not going to shoot him and when he gets close enough, SHOOT !
When I get home and download on the computer ( Mine has a color monitor) the first thing I do is delete any photos where I didn't catch the eyes just right, unless the critter is doing something really interesting, like reproducing or taking a nap, or, eating another critter ! Then I get rid of any photo that just isn't composed right and can't be recomposed by cropping. Then, I take my absolutely best photos and hide them in my Million Dollar Folder which I hide under my mattress. The rest I enter in contests, put on my website or post to my Blog.
Some folks think B&W is artistic, so, I thought I'd show everybody; I can be artistic, too ! The truth of the matter is I was going to throw this photo away. All the rest of yesterday's Osprey shots were taken when the bird was flying in clear blue skies. This was the only shot I had where he flew with a big grey raincloud behind him. Comments ?

Thursday, February 26, 2009


After the Crab and Bird got flushed down wherever things go after you empty the Recycle Bin, I decided to go have a beer last night. It all started off innocently enough, until I ran into another cameraman; then it turned into a few more beers and some Karaoke. Soon it was 1:30AM and I wandered on home, knowing my plans to catch some sunrise shots were probably doomed. But, the good news was, I had written a note to myself and stuck it in my cigarette pack; something about a total eclipse of the sun 22 July, this year. A potential MILLION DOLLAR PHOTO ! And I was invited to go shoot it up in Kyushu, Japan.

Lots of things are done differently here: People drive on the left side of the road, Take a shower before they get in the bathtub, Get their butts washed while they're sitting on the throne, and conduct important business in bars after working hours ! And the Bulls fight each other instead of some guy with a cape and a dagger. But, that's not what this POST is really about.

Some nice lady in Colorado emailed me this morning asking me to sign and return Copyright papers for publishing this and another photo along with a story about Okinawan Bullfighting (of course not this exact photo, but one like it). As soon as I see it, I'll believe it and tell you where to find it and I hope NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC finds it, too and asks me to go to Kyushu and shoot the total eclipse of the sun ! I'm done feeling crabby, now; think I'll go home, take a shower, take a bath and crash early to see if I can catch the sun come up tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feelin' Crabby

This photo I dug out of an old favorites folder from sometime in 2007. Today was one of those days when I went halfway around the island with 2 cameras and a tripod in the back seat of the car and never took a picture ! Sometimes it's a good idea to let the cameras have a day off, especially when a picture just doesn't jump out at you.

Usually, even when the light isn't just right, I come up with a way to compose the shot I want. I'll figure out a way to work with the light that's available and make that wild critter come to life on my memory card, without tweaking it with some, "Plastic after-the-fact- editing Program".

If I'm lazy, like I was when I shot this photo, the camera is in one of the (what I like to call) idiot modes; where it's supposed to know what the picture should look like without any input from the photographer. I keep shots like this to remind me to check the camera settings before I even walk out the door. Check the lighting conditions all around me when I get out the door. Get to where I want to shoot from before the birds are there. Stake out the territory, have my picture composed and just wait for a critter to show up in the scene.

As soon as I hit Publish Post I'm going back to the folder I dug this out of and I'm going to hit DELETE and YES and empty the Recycle Bin. Why ?
Because I'm Feelin' Crabby !

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hauled-Off From Here, TOO !

This is another picture I'll never forget. I didn't exactly get apprehended, this time, but "Doc" did and I didn't want to walk 30 miles home carrying all my camera gear. Somehow, I knew if he got thrown in a cell, he wouldn't let me have his car keys. So, when the Security Guard took him in for questioning I went along, just to see what would happen.

I felt a little guilty because I told a worker in the Museum that Doc was from the newspaper and he called Security.

Apparently, it's OK to take pictures of the Ancient Ryukyu King's Throne for your own personal use.

If you're a reporter or somebody who's going to make a living off your photos, get authorization from the Shuri Castle Office.

The Guard that hauled us away couldn't of been five feet tall, but wore a policeman-like uniform and lectured us all the way through (what seemed like) half a mile of corridors and tunnels, waving his arms and pointing fingers.

I started thinking out loud, " Let's just give him our Memory Cards and RUN, Doc, or WE'RE GOING TO JAIL!"

It turned out, all you have to do to be authorized to take pictures for OTHER THAN PERSONAL USE is go to the office first and explain what you're doing. Then, they give you an armband to wear and a signed release form.

So, while Doc was explaining what newspaper he works for, I started telling the translator I send my pictures to National Geograghic, JPG Magazine, Popular Science, Reader's Digest and anybody else I could think of, just so they'd give me a slip of paper like they gave Doc.

Shoot first and ask questions later doesn't work too well if you plan on making a living with your camera.

Always get a signed release !

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Butterflies in Your Stomach

Ever get Butterflies in your stomach ? It happens to me all the time when I get really, really nervous. It used to be when I was a youngster (About half a century ago) and the teacher asked you to get up in front of the class and recite the Declaration of Independence, or something.

Now, it usually only happens right before I get arrested or almost apprehended, like today. And it happened a few months ago, too, so soon I should develop a tolerance for it, just like I did for History teachers. Either that, or quit doing stupid things that might get an innocent looking fellow like me get apprehended !

The end of the month is coming around real soon ( I know because my wife says PAYDAY is just around the corner because FEB is a short month) and writers have to meet deadlines and need the photos they're writing about, like YESTERDAY ! Well, my favorite writer because she speaks better English and Japanese than me, needs some Cherry Blossoms by an Elementary School photographed this week. Friday would've been a good time for her but not for me. So, the sun looked right for shooting this morning and I decided I'd go shoot and surprise her with a "Mission Accomplished" before the day was done.

When all my morning chores were done I grabbed a camera bag and tripod and walked to the school. Not wanting to disturb the people in the office, I spotted a Gym teacher taking a class out to the soccer field and asked if it was OK to shoot pictures of the Cherry Tree and got a Thumbs-Up .

Well, when I do a shoot like this I'm all over the place playing with light and camera settings, taking shots at every imaginable angle, looking for the best background and most importantly being real careful to NOT GET ANY KIDS in my pictures !

About half an hour into my work HERE COMES SECURITY !!! " Hey, this is a school NO CAMERAS ALLOWED " the guard yells as he rushes me waving his arms like an Olympic Swimmer. When I explained , in my Japanese as a fifth language, that I was doing the shoot for a story on Cherry Blossoms for a the English Teacher at the School and that I had asked the Gym Teacher out on the field for permission beforehand, the guard backed-off and let me continue. But, I saw him walking towards the office when he left me and that's when the Butterflies started. My instincts, from being a wildlife photographer, told me what to do next: RUN FOR YOUR LIFE !!!

Instead, I did the wise thing; shot from a few more angles, slowly working my way towards the gate. I even saw one of my Grandsons out on the grounds for recess. He barely said "Hi" to me. Either he knew I was working because he saw the camera and tripod or noticed the guilty expression on my face, or he just got asked to recite the Gettysburg Address and had Butterflies in his stomach, too !

Anyway, once I cleared the school grounds, I hurried across the street, stopped in a store for a quick coffee and once I was sure nobody was going to come after me, climbed a tower and looked back at the school and when I was sure all the Butterflies were gone; RAN LIKE HELL all the way home!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Photo Courtesy of "Doc" Keith Graff

Times a wastin' and this blog stuff gets easier for me everyday; only takes about five minutes, if you don't worry about what to compose and just put whatever pops into your head right into the PC.

Doc's a photojournalist; me, just a cameraman, but, if I keep doing this blog stuff everyday and can train the finger I type with to quit banging on the wrong keys, maybe I'll try and do a story someday.

It just dawned on me last night that people reading this blog might not know what I'm talking about when I yell about buying my pictures. I forgot to hook this thing up to my website ! Well, today I URLd and Meta Tagged and a whole bunch of other stuff so the website has the blog and the blog is linked to the website. Welcome to the 21st Century, Grampa !
As long as I was doing all that administrative stuff, I decided to put my picture on and fill out the About Me section, too and give you a better look at me by loading Doc's picture up full size. Now Doc is published again and loading his resume up with all kinds of credits.

These Google folks sure do ask alot of personal questions about you, though. I left alot of spaces blank and gave them my birthday, for a couple of reasons. One is so when people see how old I really am, I won't have to worry about somebody like Merryl Streep hunting me down like she did with that character in "Bridges of Madison County". Another reason, maybe Mr. Google sends birthday presents out on your birthday ! I have just enough space left in my camera bag for an 800mm lens. Ya hear me Mr. Google ?

Thanks for the picture, Doc and I hope some of my both followers visit your blog. And NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC doesn't call me for an assignment soon, I'll be switchin' to SMITHSONIAN ! More later

In Case You Were Wondering.....

.....Where I get all the Bull Crap I type in my Blog from, or, what I look like (since I never got around to posting a photo of myself) I decided to post this, because, it probably won't make the cover of GQ, Ladies Home Journal, National Geographic, or any of my other favorite Magazines !

Gettin' down and dirty is what I do when I'm out shooting with a camera. I'm always out looking for that million dollar shot and sometimes to get it composed the way you want it you have to do some real dumb things with your body; like kneel down in front of a fighting bull waiting to enter the arena.

Sunday the 15th of Jan in Okinawa, Japan (while you folks were probably with your sweethearts doing Valentine's stuff) I spent the day with bulls, taking pictures and because my Sidekick "Doc" paid the entrance fees for us to get in to the event, afterwards, I sprung for a steak dinner. All that beef running around made me hungry !

Oh, we're Homo sapiens and have wives, in case you were wondering !
We just get our freedom to go out and try and make more money with our cameras, so our wives get to spend more, on things we don't really need, unless, it's stuff to help us make more money, with our cameras !

Cycles, everything seems to go in cycles: earning and spending, uploading and downloading, up and down (Dollar, Yen and Euro), Peace and War, World Economies, Life and Death, Bear Markets and Bull... enough bull.....if you come away from this blog with anything valuable today, remember this, " Speak well of the dead; you may be one of them someday".

Also, if you were thinking of stealing my picture, save yourself alot of trouble and just send me ten bucks ! More later.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Today was cloudy and raining outside, but I learned along time ago to take my camera with me every chance I get.
I never got a shot in today, but, if I'd have left the camera at home: THE BIRD OF PARADISE probably would've flew right up my nose!

There must be a few hundred thousand bird pictures that I could've posted here today, but I dug this one up because it's fairly recent and I just entered it in a contest at Better Photo and I want someone to try and steal it. That way, I can see if anyone reads my blog and it will help me decide if I really want to start posting my photos on flickr, and, besides that, I just couldn't think of anything great to Blog about today !

STEAL THIS PICTURE, REALLY ?.... Yup, there's a few easy ways I can teach you how to get free pictures off the internet. One is by right-clicking and saving it to a file, and another is a screen shot. Simple as that !

Used to be I worried about people stealing my hard work for free, but since I started filing for copyrights, I can make alot more money going to court than I can bustin' my ass shootin' bird pictures!

But, how am I going to find out who stole the picture? Can't tell you that and be giving away trade secrets. Just do it ! Oh, yeah and have a spare C Drive ready to install; I forgot to tellya ! And.........................................

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who Needs Fireworks ?

Last Saturday night while other people were doing important stuff, like drinking beer, I went to check out the Kin Cherry Blossom Festival.

Thinking it would be some big shindig like it is in all the other places on the Island, I spent all afternoon printing photos of birds and Cherry Blossoms I had shot in that location, just two weeks before. I made up all sizes of photos from 3x5 to 8x10 and even framed a batch of them in cardboard, thinking I could get rich selling them to tourists. Or, at least make enough money to reinvest in more wooden frames, for Gallery exhibits.

About an hour after the Festival started, I showed up with my camera to shoot the activities and a bag full of photos to sell. I think that's what younger folks call: multi-tasking. I parked the car a few hundred yards away from the festivities, so I wouldn't get blocked-in by traffic later and decided to leave the bag of photos in the car and stroll around with my camera awhile. Figuring maybe I'd spot a booth set up by someone I know and I could get them to sell my pictures for me ( on commission, of course).

As soon as I walked around a bend in the road and could see the festival grounds, I knew my Get Rich Quick Scheme was doomed. I knew instinctively "There aint gonna be no tourists here" Even though the red and white lanterns were stretched for a 1/4 mile on both sides of the highway and music was blaring from a stage, it was obvious this was an event for the local inhabitants only. How would I know that ? Maybe I've lived here too long !

The layout of the festival grounds consisted of:

A makeshift stage in front of a cargo-container covered by a blue plastic tarp.

A tent serving the normal festival food: Yaki-Soba.

Two tents serving alcohol: beer and awamori.


All the Town Drunks were there swilling their sake and trying to get me to join them ( probably because I used to be one of them). But, the nice thing about being a cameraman, once you tell them you're working, they respect that and leave you alone.

So, I walked around a few hours shooting Cherry Blossoms in the fading light and sniffing sake fumes until my camera started beeping, telling me the battery was dead. Changed batteries and it started complaining about the memory card being full ! I asked around and found out the event was over at 8PM, so, figured I'd put a fresh card in and have 2GBs of memory to shoot the fireworks.

Well, like the rest of my plans gone wrong, there was no money for fireworks. Here it was 8PM and dark and getting cold and my stomach was growling and I waited all this time for NO FIREWORKS !

The only thing that kept me hanging around any longer was they were playing some of my favorite music: Okinawan Mineo. I milled around in the crowd for awhile and even thought of maybe having a beer. But thought twice because one beer might lead to a dozen and I had to drive.

So, I made one last walk around the festival grounds to say goodbye to some folks I hadn't seen in a few years, when all of a sudden the whole place lit-up ! A Whole bunch of Dump Trucks came with glaring lights from both ends of the road. Music blasting, polished chrome shining, smoke stacks smoking and all 3 or 4 cylinders roaring down the highway burning diesel and squeeling tires, blowing horns and showing-off their valet-like parking skills. And I loved it ! The festival didn't end at 8 or 9. I really don't know when it ended. After I ran out of memory card the second time, I had to go home before the scent of alcohol overcame me.

When you have live bands, karaoke, gaudy lit-up dump trucks, alcohol and drunks singing to them and dancing with them, WHO NEEDS FIREWORKS ?